TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - The first Chinese student in Taiwan found guilty of spying and sentenced in prison has been released on Tuesday, yet remains subject to a travel ban.
Zhou Hongxu (周泓旭), 30, from northeast China's province of Liaoning, initially traveled to Taiwan in 2012 to study business management at National Chengchi University, but it was at a cross-straits exchange event in 2014 that a Chinese official began encouraging him to expand his circle of acquaintances in Taiwan, especially among military officers, police, diplomats, intelligence and other government staff, reports said. In early 2017, Zhou offered a Taiwanese diplomat US$1,000 per quarter for confidential information, but the latter reported him to the authorities.
Zhou was arrested and held in custody from March 9, 2017, and later that year was found guilty of violating the National Security Act, in particular provisions related to the formation of spy networks. Zhou was sentenced to one year and two months in prison at district court in September, while an appeal was rejected by the Taiwan High Court due to the sensitive nature of the case.
Media reported that Zhou can be released from the jail on Tuesday after the deliberation of a collegial panel, as the time Zhou held in custody can offset the jail time, meaning Zhou can leave on May 8, 2018. Zhou, however, will be subject to a travel ban and not allowed to leave the country.
Meanwhile, Zhou might face prosecution in the future for another spy network formation case that involved New Party spokesman Wang Ping-chung (王炳忠), who denied earlier this year that he had accepted NT$5.9 million from China's government to fund his online activities.